The impact of conservation-driven translocations on blood parasite prevalence in the Seychelles warbler

Eleanor A. Fairfield, Kimberly Hutchings, Danielle L. Gilroy, Sjouke A. Kingma, Terry Burke, Jan Komdeur, David S. Richardson (Lead Author)

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Introduced populations often lose the parasites they carried in their native range, but little is known about which processes may cause parasite loss during host movement. Conservation-driven translocations could provide an opportunity to identify the mechanisms involved. Using 3,888 blood samples collected over 22 years, we investigated parasite prevalence in populations of Seychelles warblers (Acrocephalus sechellensis) after individuals were translocated from Cousin Island to four new islands (Aride, Cousine, Denis and Frégate). Only a single parasite (Haemoproteus nucleocondensus) was detected on Cousin (prevalence = 52%). This parasite persisted on Cousine (prevalence = 41%), but no infection was found in individuals hatched on Aride, Denis or Frégate. It is not known whether the parasite ever arrived on Aride, but it has not been detected there despite 20 years of post-translocation sampling. We confirmed that individuals translocated to Denis and Frégate were infected, with initial prevalence similar to Cousin. Over time, prevalence decreased on Denis and Frégate until the parasite was not found on Denis two years after translocation, and was approaching zero prevalence on Frégate. The loss (Denis) or decline (Frégate) of H. nucleocondensus, despite successful establishment of infected hosts, must be due to factors affecting parasite transmission on these islands.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29596
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2016

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